Ohio State started out with strong outside shooting and jumped to an 8-0 lead after less than a minute and a half. Marc Loving started the outside shooting trend by going two for two from behind the arc in the early minutes. D'Angelo Russel was also key in the first half, scoring 13 and keeping the offense going when Thad Matta brought in substitutions.
North Carolina A&T stayed in it with good rebounding and 15 points from Bruce Beckford, but 12 turnovers and 37% shooting helped Ohio State pull out to a 39-26 halftime lead. Ohio State looked slightly bored on defense, similar to Saturday's game, and that allowed the Aggies to compete in the first half.
The second half was a different story. Amir Williams led the Buckeyes with 7 points on a 19-4 run in the first four minutes and six of six shooting for Ohio State. The Buckeyes never looked back and kept growing the lead throughout the final 16 minutes. The Buckeyes closed the game with multiple players in double figures, and they now eye the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chicago on Saturday.
3 things we learned
1. Loving Marc's shot selection. Loving hit his first two shots, both from three point land, and made a healthy number of free throws. A great bounce back from his one of four game from the field against Morehead State. He continued the trend by nailing his first shot of the second half, also a three pointer.
Loving sometimes dishes away an open shot, and he even did so in this game. However, when he appears confident the shots will fall for him, and he can be a great complement to Russel on offense.
2. Turnovers turn into offense for Ohio State. The Buckeyes continue their success with the zone defense by forcing over 20 turnovers against the Aggies, but the more impressive stat might be the 40 plus points off of those turnovers. Ohio State came into the game forcing an average of 18 turnovers per game with almost nine of them coming off of steals every game.
Ohio State has done a great job turning turnovers into points with their transition offense. Whether it be a no look pass to Russell down low or a lob to Sam Thompson, the Buckeyes have been able to run the court all season. They kept that trend going tonight, so backcourts should beware Ohio State after a turnover.
3. Dimes a plenty in Nationwide Arena. Ohio State finished the game with greater than 20 assists, and Shannon Scott hit double digit assists for the forth time this season. The Buckeye team has done a great job helping their teammates out this season by averaging 17 assists per game coming into Wednesdays's game.
Keeping the assist numbers up has also led to more scoring opportunities for younger players who may not be able to make their own shot. With a senior like Scott dishing the rock, Ohio State's freshman have been able to find many open looks.